Both my previous experience and my reading about student-centred classrooms supported this thinking.
My principal, however, did not. She was concerned, apparently, with how students would write EQAO, the week-long, province-wide assessment that every Grade 3 student had to write each year.
Four or five students at one table simply would not do for the one week in May/June when every Grade 3 in the Ontario wrote the provincial test... INDEPENDENTLY! Effective groups from Sept - June, it appeared, would have to be sacrificed for one week of archaic pedagogy. She simply could not conceive of how such a classroom set-up could possibly allow for individual students to write without copying off their neighbours, and she was not open to my ideas about how it might, in fact, work.
It wasn't long before I left that school and moved on to greener pastures. I now work in a school with a very open-minded administrator who happily supports a group of staff who are keen to try out a variety of ideas to increase the chances to student success.
For those interested in how students can work independently in a classroom environment set up to accommodate flexible groupings, I offer these photos, taken this week, as students work independently on the provincial assessment.
And, when they complete "the test", and we reconvene to work on an activity in small groups, the classroom won't need to be torn apart and rearranged. :-)